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The Thirty Day Freak Out


It was a good idea on day one, it was an even better idea as we built it out on day 10, day 20. So why, suddenly, the day we're finally launching, does the client throw everything up in the air and decide she wants to cancel?

It hasn't mattered whether the project was a simple AdWords campaign or a full site redesign/relaunch, the behavior is the same. The project is just about to go live, or the campaign's been running less than a month when the client calls, she's panicked, she's changed her mind, and she wants to pull the plug.

Have you seen this with your agency? It's a phenomenon I've encountered so often in 10+ years in agency that I’ve created a name for it. I call it the “Thirty Day Freak Out.”

It’s not specific to any client industry, to any business size or type. It doesn’t always happen on day thirty, either--I've seen it on day forty-five, day sixty-five, or as early as day ten, or two. It’s the overwhelming panic to abandon everything, to throw out the baby and the bathwater, and to just give up and start over. And as many times as I’ve seen it, I've felt it’s my duty to hold the client's hand, to walk them back from the ledge, and to explain that it just takes a little more time.

Because good marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme or a one-off clever gimmick, marketing campaigns that work take time. In fact, every long-lasting business strategy requires ramp-up time. Just ask Jim Collins in his book "Good to Great." Good marketing is a process of planning, executing, measuring, optimizing, and improving. No great thing launches without a good amount of tweaking, pushing, pulling, and reworking. And even a little bit of panicking thrown in for good measure.

Just this past week I sat across from a client and listened patiently as he said, "Yeah, we were really nervous until we got to the end of July and saw our final numbers. Everything looked good--great, actually--just like you said. We had our best month ever, even, but it took getting through month three to really start closing the leads, I guess."

"I guess it did," I agreed. Which was much better than what I wanted to say, that I told you so! That I wasn't guessing, stalling, or lying when I said three months ago, "It usually takes about 90 days for clients to see the results of the campaign and start closing the deals my team is setting up. So let's not make any judgments on its success until we've had a chance to run it, optimize, and really let it work." I even nodded at him and said, "Just trust the process."

I've had to learn for myself to trust the process. I've learned the hard way that our own doubts, our lizard brains, can overthink and even undermine our own efforts at success. I remind myself as often as I remind clients to just trust the process. Let the campaign run. Launch the new site. It was a good idea on day one, so it's probably still a good idea on day 30. And day 90. And if it's worked before, and it's working now, it will most likely still be working down the road. Keep testing! Keep optimizing, measuring, and improving. But don't freak out, call it quits, or abandon a good idea before it's had its chance to work.

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